Dr. Steve Wilson

On behalf of The Williamson Board of Parks and Recreation, I have been asked to write this letter of explanation regarding the facts surrounding the difficult decision to close our Williamson Swimming Pool several years ago.

I must also explain that the reason I accepted the opportunity to serve on the Park Board more than 10 years ago was primarily because of my passion for the swimming pool facility. Having grown up in Williamson, I have many memories of summertime fun with all my friends and I was passionate about giving other "kids" the same opportunity I had. Many summer days would bring hundreds of bathers down to West End to cool off and enjoy one of Williamson's recreational crown jewels.

A major role all board members share is being financially responsible and good stewards of the limited resources that we have to work with. Let me share the financial realities regarding the West Williamson Swimming Pool facility.

The 1977 flood left its dark mark in the memory of every citizen in our area. It also caused significant trauma to the outer walls and floor of our swimming pool (and baby pool), including plumbing failures, circulation challenges affecting water quality, loss of nighttime in-pool lighting and fractures that caused perpetual leaks. These leaks were only overcome by the City of Williamson graciously donating no cost water (thousands of gallons daily) that was fed by multiple garden hoses running overnight every night.

The last operational year looked like this. We opened right before Memorial Day and ran until the middle of August. Our overall expenses exceeded $70,000. This included start-up costs of circulation motor renovation, bottom and wall patching, pool painting, power-washing cost to prepare the hard surfaces and overall cleanup. Pool chemicals and labor costs, including a pool manager, made up most of the remaining costs.

Our total income was approximately $18,000. This breakdown was $10,000 in corporately sponsored "free" swim days. Our ticket sales, including evening pool parties, was $8,000. The story doesn't end there because our Park Board summoned the expertise of a swimming pool specialist to estimate the costs of repairing the leaking facility. He described all of his concerns for the pool, which included severe wall cracks, unlevel skimming gutters, inadequate circulation, likely behind-the-walls plumbing leaks, and his belief that voids exist beneath the pool that are the result of constant leaking and the 1977 flood. When pressed about the cost to repair the pool, his best guess exceeded $100,000. In conclusion, he did not recommend that we consider repairing the pool because he felt that unforeseen costs would likely be discovered and exceed even his best guesses of cost.

So, there you have it. A Williamson recreational crown jewel that was damaged by a flood and father time. Poor attendance simply made the decision obvious. Diverting funds to other Williamson Parks projects has shown benefits. The Kiwanis Community Center has recently had new HVAC system installed. We just completed complete renovation of the Historic Field House windows. LED lighting has been installed at the Field House, as well.

Let me close by casting an invitation to any interested members of the public that might like to donate their time and energy to our Williamson Parks. In addition, we hold regularly scheduled meetings at the newly renovated Field House office every second Monday of the month at 6 p.m. Please bring your ideas and suggestions to our dedicated board. We stand ready to serve our community and, most importantly, the youth of our Tug Valley areas.

Dr. Steve Wilson is a member of the Williamson Park Board.